Daily Update: Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

John of Capistrano and World Mission Sunday 2016

Today is the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, and the Optional Memorial of Saint John of Capistrano, Priest (died 1456). Because today is the second-to-last Sunday in October, today is World Mission Sunday.

Born in 1386 in Capistrano, Italy, today’s Saint was the son of a German knight who died when his son was still young. The young man studied law at the University of Perugia and worked as a lawyer in Naples, Italy, taking as his surname the town of his birth. He became the reforming governor of Perugia under King Ladislas of Naples. When war broke out between Perugia and the House of Malatesta from Rimini, Italy in 1416, John tried to broker a peace, but when the opponents ignored the truce, John became a prisoner of war. During his imprisonment, John came to the decision to change vocations. He had married just before the war, but the marriage was never consummated, and with his bride’s permission, it was annulled. He joined the Franciscans at Perugia in 1416, and was a disciple of Saint Bernadine of Siena. He was a noted preacher while still a deacon, beginning his work in 1420 as an itinerant priest throughout Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia, preaching to tens of thousands. He established communities of Franciscan renewal, and was reported to be able to heal by making the Sign of the Cross over a sick person. He wrote extensively, mainly against the heresies of the day. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 he preached Crusade against the Muslim Turks. At age 70 he was commissioned by Pope Callistus II to lead the crusade, and marched off at the head of 70,000 Christian soldiers and the Hungarian military commander John Hunyadi. The great battle of Belgrade was won in the summer of 1456, and the Soldier Priest died a few months later from the plague. As a Franciscan reformer preaching simplicity, he became the namesake of two Spanish missions founded by the Franciscans in the north of the then-Spanish Americas: Mission San Juan Capistrano in today’s Southern California and Mission San Juan Capistrano just outside the city center of today’s San Antonio in Texas. He is the Patron Saint of jurists and military chaplains. Today being the next-to-last Sunday in October means that today is World Mission Sunday, organized by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith; it is a day set aside for Catholics worldwide to recommit themselves to the Church’s missionary activity through prayer and sacrifice. As described by Saint John Paul II, Pope, World Mission Sunday is “an important day in the life of the Church because it teaches how to give: as an offering made to God, in the Eucharistic celebration and for all the missions of the world” (Redemptoris Missio 81). The Propagation of the Faith is entrusted with the promotion of World Mission Sunday, collection of the proceeds, and distribution of the proceeds. The Mission Office sends the proceeds to the National Office, which sends the monies to the international office of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in Rome. At their annual meeting in Rome, the International Society for the Propagation of the Faith decides how the funds collected will be distributed to missionaries worldwide, based on needs that are prioritized. This year’s theme is “Mercy Changes the World.” In the words of Pope Francis for World Mission Sunday, “On this World Mission Sunday, all of us are invited to “go out” as missionary disciples, each generously offering their talents, creativity, wisdom and experience in order to bring the message of God’s tenderness and compassion to the entire human family. By virtue of the missionary mandate, the Church cares for those who do not know the Gospel, because she wants everyone to be saved and to experience the Lord’s love. She “is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel” (Misericordiae Vultus, 12) and to proclaim mercy in every corner of the world, reaching every person, young or old.”

Last night our #25 ranked LSU Tigers won their home College Football SEC game with the #23 Ole Miss Rebels by the score of 38 to 21. After a bye week, our #25 LSU Tigers (5-2, 3-1) will play an Away SEC game with the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0), who will also be coming off of a bye week, on November 5th.

Richard did not sleep at all, after waking up to watch the LSU game; after the game he stayed up watching TV. I woke up late, and did my Book Devotional Reading, and Richard brought in the LSU flag for me. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. Before clocking in, we signed the Early Out list, with no real expectations of getting out early (and indeed, we did not get out early). Richard was on Three Card Poker; I was at first the Relief Dealer for Macau Mini Baccarat, Mini Baccarat, and two Pai Gow tables, so I did not get a break until an hour and twenty after we clocked in. By the time of my break, I was not feeling at all well (apparently the muffins I had eaten in ADR before clocking in had disagreed with me), but on my break I felt better after throwing up. After my first break, they had closed the Macau Mini Baccarat table and one of the Pai Gow tables, so I spent the rest of the morning breaking just the Mini Baccarat and Pai Gow tables.

When we got home from work I did not feel up to eating my lunch salad, so I just read the Sunday papers. I then came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update; when I finish this Daily Update I will read a chapter or two in One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde and go to sleep for the duration. Right now our New Orleans Saints are playing an Away NFL game with the Kansas City Chiefs; I will record the results of the game in Monday’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (died 1870). Tomorrow is also United Nations Day. Richard and I will work our eight hours at the casino, and after lunch I will catch up on some stuff around here.

Our Parting Quote this Sunday afternoon comes to us from John McCarthy, American computer scientist. Born in 1927 in Boston, Massachusetts, his father was an Irish immigrant father and his mother was a Lithuanian Jewish immigrant. The family was obliged to relocate frequently during the Great Depression, until McCarthy’s father found work as an organizer for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers in Los Angeles, California. McCarthy was exceptionally intelligent, and graduated from high school two years early. He showed an early aptitude for mathematics; during his teens he taught himself college mathematics by studying the textbooks used at the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech). As a result, when McCarthy was accepted into Caltech in 1944, he was able to skip the first two years of mathematics. However, he was suspended from Caltech for failure to attend physical education courses; he then served in the US Army and was readmitted, receiving a B.S. in Mathematics during 1948. It was at Caltech that he attended a lecture by John Von Neumann that inspired his future endeavors in computer science. McCarthy initially continued his studies at Caltech, and received a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Princeton University during 1951 as a student of Solomon Lefschetz. McCarthy championed mathematical logic for artificial intelligence. During 1956 he organized the first international conference to emphasize artificial intelligence. One of the attendees was Marvin Minsky, who became, later, one of the main AI theorists, and joined McCarthy at MIT during 1959. During the autumn of 1956, McCarthy won an MIT research fellowship. He served on the committee that designed ALGOL, which became a very influential programming language by introducing many new constructs now in common use. During 1958 he proposed the advice taker, which inspired later work on question-answering and logic programming. Around 1959, he invented so-called “garbage collection” methods to solve problems in Lisp. Based on the lambda calculus, Lisp soon became the programming language of choice for AI applications after its publication during 1960. He helped to motivate the creation of Project MAC at MIT, but left MIT for Stanford University during 1962, where he helped establish the Stanford AI Laboratory, for many years a friendly rival to Project MAC. During 1961 he was the first to suggest publicly (in a speech given to celebrate MIT’s centennial) that computer time-sharing technology might result in a future in which computing power and even specific applications could be sold through the utility business model (like water or electricity). After short-term appointments at Princeton, Stanford University, Dartmouth, and MIT, he became a full professor at Stanford during 1962. During 1966 McCarthy and his team at Stanford wrote a computer program used to play a series of chess games with counterparts in the Soviet Union; McCarthy’s team lost two games and drew two games. From 1978 to 1986, McCarthy developed the circumscription method of non-monotonic reasoning. McCarthy is also credited with developing an early form of time-sharing. During 1982 he seems to have originated the idea of the “space fountain”, a type of tower extending into space and kept vertical by the outward force of a stream of pellets propelled from Earth along a sort of conveyor belt which returns the pellets to Earth (payloads would ride the conveyor belt upward). He retired from his position at Stanford in 2000; his 2001 short story “The Robot and the Baby” farcically explored the question of whether robots should have (or simulate having) emotions, and anticipated aspects of Internet culture and social networking that became more prominent during the ensuing decade (died 2011): “Program designers have a tendency to think of the users as idiots who need to be controlled. They should rather think of their program as a servant, whose master, the user, should be able to control it. If designers and programmers think about the apparent mental qualities that their programs will have, they’ll create programs that are easier and pleasanter — more humane — to deal with.”

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